1. Choose a party date.
2. Choose a theme with the birthday child.
3. Make a list of party guests.
4. Order adorable invitations from Etsy.
5. Pin 10 fun, theme-related recipes to make for the party on Pinterest.
6. Send out the adorable party invitations.
7. Be informed by the teacher that you cannot just invite your daughter’s three best friends; you must invite the entire class.
8. Consider lying to the teacher about canceling the party.
9. Print out 16 additional adorable invitations.
10. Get your first RSVP. Mom asks if she can bring along the guest child’s sibling.
11. Order the cake.
12. Get your next three RSVPs. Add an additional four siblings and a set of grandparents to the guest list.
13. Get six more RSVPs. Add two more siblings, one cousin, and two more grandmas to the list.
14. Buy extra plates, cups, napkins and utensils.
15. Tyler’s mom calls to inform you that he is allergic to nuts and that red food coloring makes him hyper. It would be great if you could make sure there are no nuts in the food or anywhere at all in your home, and please make sure he is served nothing that contains red food coloring.
16. Call the bakery, who informs you that their batter is made in a facility that uses nuts.
17. Cancel the cake.
18. Order new, more expensive cake from specialty bakery that can make it without nuts or red food coloring. But hey, it’s worth it. You love Tyler and want him to feel included.
19. Scrap the Pinterest recipes and clip some pizza coupons.
20. Get your first “no” RSVP. Your friend–the same one who’s hosted three parties in the last two months, each of which you attended–cannot make it because it’s the same day as The Sound of Music sing-along at the movies. (Crap! You really wanted to go to that too!)
21. Three more “no” RSVPs—damn you, Fräulein Maria!
22. Several more RSVPs and a few more declines; you’re now back to your original head count.
23. Trevor’s mom calls to inform you that he is allergic to latex. She doesn’t want him to feel left out if other kids are playing with balloons, so can you please not have any balloons at the party?
24. Run into Hannah’s mom while returning the extra plates, cups, napkins and utensils and the balloons. She forgot to tell you that Hannah is dairy-free, but not to worry, because she’s bringing her a sandwich and a special cupcake for her to be safe.
25. Physically restrain yourself from kissing Hannah’s mom on the mouth.
26. Thoroughly scrub your pantry and refrigerator clean of all nut products.
27. Decorate your house for the party without balloons.
28. Hope that no one else notices the slight smell of patchouli emitting from the colorless, vegan, organic, gluten-free, nut-free, latex-free cake.
29. Freak out when your mom surprises your daughter with two dozen latex balloons. Hide them in the master bedroom closet.
30. Start welcoming guests.
31. Get a text from Tyler’s mom letting you know that they won’t be coming because she forgot he had a soccer game. Oh, and Trevor is on the same team and won’t be able to make it, either.
32. Send your mom to the master bedroom closet to fish out the balloons.
33. Direct Allegra’s dad to the den because he really, really wants to watch the game, but his wife “had a goddamn hair appointment” and now he’s “stuck coming here.”
34. Send your brother into the den to keep an eye on Allegra’s dad.
35. Send your husband to the grocery store to pick up a regular cake because your house is beginning to smell like a hippie commune.
36. Serve the pizza while Brooklyn’s mom walks behind you suggesting some Pinterest recipes you can try for your next party, since “everyone is so over pizza already.”
37. Sing “Happy Birthday” and try not to knock out Milo’s older brother when he blows out your daughter’s candle.
38. Find Braxton’s grandpa knocking on the linen closet door and direct him to the bathroom.
39. Try unsuccessfully to convince your daughter to open her gifts after everyone goes home.
40. Give Kenzie’s mom the stink-eye every time her daughter proclaims “I have one of those!” after your daughter opens each of her gifts.
41. Thank everyone for coming while standing outside of your front door holding the goody bags.
42. Entertain the thought of tripping Tripp when he looks inside the goody bag and asks if that’s all he gets.
43. Have a mini heart attack and come up with a quick excuse when you overhear Eloise’s mom tell her that she can spend the night as long as it’s okay with you.
44. Ask your brother break it to Allegra’s dad that he’ll have to listen to the rest of the game on the way home, because the party is over.
45. Shut the door when the last guest finally leaves, pour yourself a glass of wine, and promise yourself that next year it’s Chuck E. Cheese’s all the way, baby.